1. Hingefactor

    Hingefactor Member

    Well done Mick West!
  2. jph5671

    jph5671 New Member

    Ignoring the shadows, take a close look at 2 things. First, i find it interesting how the shade of the orange jumpsuit seems to look slightly different from one another. Maybe different times of the day? I assume they have hundreds of these gowns all being the same (Just a guess obviously). Second watch very closely in the video at the top and notice the amount of wind hitting each mans orange jump suit. Yes both have evidence of wind hitting them, but Haruna Yukawa (on the right) seems to have more powerful wind hitting him than Kenji Goto does. (Different videos? different time of the day?) These are very quick judgments I formulated from watching the video above. Zero credibility to what I just stated however its definitely something to think about.
  3. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Look at the neckline. They are wearing different garments (or possibly one is on backwards).

    They are at different angles to the wind, and one garment is hanging more than the other, and the wind is not the same in two spots six feet apart.

    If you think otherwise, then do an experiment, video the result, and post it here. Don't just speculate when you can prove something.
  4. Deacon Tyler

    Deacon Tyler New Member

    I really almost hate throwing in my opinion, as I don't want to disrespect anyone in the event that I'm wrong. I have been a professional photographer for 17 years and have shot under the same conditions as these videos (I lived in Las Vegas for six years and often shot at dry lakebeds and deserts very similar in color and texture).

    Today I looked up the Isis videos and being true to myself, it was out of morbid curiosity, as I couldn't believe that these things actually happen.

    My eyes went extremely wide not just because of the horror, but because these videos and photos are not entirely real.

    I *completely* understand how lighting works and how cameras work. I won't engage in self promotion by linking my website, but needless to say, I am experienced in this field.

    Light reveals itself via shadows and the thinner gentleman on the left is lit by a harsh sun-like light from slightly above and to camera left. It's creating a shadow on his left side, slightly down (which is again evident on the wrinkles of his shirt).

    This jibes with the direction of the light and shadows on the rocks for the most part (I'll get to this later).

    Shadows move in the opposite direction of the light (i.e. if the light is 45 degrees from camera left, the shadow will always be 45 degrees camera right). His shadow is a little off, but let's just say that it's off because of wide angle lens distortion (which can make things look a little weird). I'm guessing the video what shot at a focal length of maybe 24mm - it 'feels' wider, but the background in relation to the subjects doesn't look that distorted, just a little.

    Also, if it were any wider than 20-24mm or so, the shadow of the camera would be in the shot.

    No deep shadows in the eye sockets, so the sun was low enough in the sky that his eyes are well lit, looking wide eyed at the camera. What's strange about that? He wouldn't be able to keep his eyes open. The sun is FAR too bright. Even Mick was wearing shades when he 'debunked' the video, or was squinting terribly, with shadows in his eye sockets. The sun is HARSH. Both men do blink a bit, but aren't squinting (which is partially an involuntary action to protect the eyes).

    The other problem is that when shooting in the desert, the colors are not that crisp. As light is reflected from the rocks, everything picks up a nasty brown color cast, unless you're using artificial lights.

    The man on the right is more troubling - I see what Mick was accomplishing with the multi image shot, but I have taken a thousand thousand group shots and never had shadows moving in opposite directions - it defies the laws of physics.

    The thinner man is shot mostly straight on (and you can tell this by looking at his shoulders), while the heavier man is turned just slightly inwards toward the executioner (his left shoulder is just a tiny bit more prominent). What's odd about that is he would be turning TOWARD the light source rather than away and if there were a single source of light, his shadow would most definitely be moving towards camera right.

    The next problem is with dynamic range. Cameras have a maximum number of stops that they can exposed properly before blowing out to white or turning pitch black. If you compensate for the harsh light on the prisoner's faces by upping the aperture to say f/11 or f/16 so their faces aren't blown out, it's going to turn those shadows pretty dark, even with the fill light from the light colored rocks.

    So there's clouds in the sky - that softens the light, right? We can even see the clouds in the background - so why are the shadows so harsh on their faces?

    The lighting and color in the video makes absolutely no sense at all - it's hard, soft, left, right and while some may disagree with me, they're either using some fairly powerful light banks that can overpower desert sun, or the video was shot with multiple lights (large unfiltered light bank at camera left lighting the foreground in a sound stage and a smaller light bank camera right and much closer to illuminate the larger gentleman without making new shadows) and a very large (30-50 feet wide) PRINTED background / floor drop (which can look VERY real on camera by the way - have a look at lemondropstop or denny's mfg) which is lit independently.

    Lastly, look at the direction of the shadows on the rocks - they're pointed directly camera right. When the backdrop's photo was taken, the sun was coming in from camera left, which would have made the shadows on the men MUCH more angled.

    The problem with Mick's vanishing point diagram is that the shadows on the rocks do not follow that same pattern and the sun is too large of a light source and still too angeled and low to have that small of a vanishing point.

    Not saying that the hostages were actors, but the video is staged and for whatever reason, Isis chose to film in a studio rather than actually taking them out to the desert.
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2015
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  5. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    You seem to be confusing the Sun with a studio light. This is a normal misconception, as it's a bit difficult to visualize a light source as being infinitely far away, and the rays of the sun being parallel over a very large area. What you say is true for a studio light, but not for the sun.

    He's not turning "towards the light source", he's increasing the angle between him and the sun's rays.

    Try drawing it from above. Draw it with a studio setup, and with an outdoor setup. Draw in the rays of light illuminating each person. Remember that all rays from the sun will be parallel, and all rays from studio lights radiate outwards from the light (either directly from the bulb, or the surface of the diffuser). Draw in where the camera is. Have them face the camera.

  6. deirdre

    deirdre Moderator Staff Member

    so you are saying these photos were taken indoors with a green screen too?

    stock. 007.

    as far as color, its more to due with the type of material. there are plenty of bright colors on stock desert photos.


    yy. tt.

    and "odd" unnatural looking effects (his left side looks 'photoshopped'):
    bill. http://sciences.unlv.edu/desertsurvivors/Pages/whatisdesertsurvivors.htm
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  7. Deacon Tyler

    Deacon Tyler New Member

    View attachment 11449

    That shot was taken at high light with the sun directly over their heads - see the shadows in the eye sockets? They're around two stops darker. The two men were not shot with the sun directly overhead.

    My gosh, even my wife caught that. I showed her the photo and the first thing she said was "their faces are dark".

    The man jogging is not looking into the sun and if he were, he would be squinting.

    The man walking his camel is squinting at the sun in his eyes and the photo has been edited to enhance color (or as simple as selecting the "nikon vivid" profile in Lightroom or a film emulation plugin. I say "nikon vivid" because that profile always adds a little too much magenta to the sky.

    The men on the camels have similarly been edited to enhance color, or they were shot in jpeg with the appropriate 'vivid' profile, which really juices up the color and contrast.

    The man jogging is being lit by the sun as well as a strobe with a silver parabolic which is about a stop above ambient positioned at a three quarters angle camera left. Underexposing the background just slightly really makes the colors pop and improves contrast. It could also be a huge silver reflector panel as a fill, with some dodging on the legs to tie everything together, but I wouldn't bother with the reflector panel when a strobe is a possibility (not to mention a strobe like the Einstein in action mode will freeze the motion of the legs very nicely) but reflected light will never be as bright.

    The artifical light source is not too far off from the angle of the sun, which makes it look a bit more natural.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Now these images are also lit by the sun.....and strobes. The background looks fake because I'm slightly underexposing it and it's a partly cloudy day - my strobes are a harder light source than the sun (22" silver beauty dish, which I used instead of a parabolic because of the wind)

    The man holding the camera looks just fine to me - his face and chest is in shadow because of the camera.

    Now could the hostages in the video be lit by the sun and an equally bright light source? Sure - there's some huge light banks out there and it's possible to drag them out to the desert, but why not just wait until the sun was softer?

    I don't 'confuse' studio light with strobe light - light is light is light and the photons aren't aware of the difference. The sun is a huge nuclear ball millions of miles away, but a 7 foot parabolic umbrella or a big light bank positioned much closer has the exact same shadow pattern and can be made to look exactly like the sun if the photographer desires.

    If you're going to criticize my reply, at least take the time to improve your knowledge of how cameras, lighting and exposure works and consider that I *might* be right before you unwaveringly insist that I'm wrong. At least I entertained the possibility of my theory being wrong. It genuinely makes for an improved discussion.
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2015
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  8. deirdre

    deirdre Moderator Staff Member

    what does that have to do with shadow angles?

    and what does squinting have to do with color?
  9. NoParty

    NoParty Senior Member

    Welcome, Deacon.
    Professional expertise is always valuable.
    As an amateur, I take thousands of shots a year in sunny situations like this video...
    and your "not entirely real" comment certainly got my attention
    (I did peruse your site...you tend to "focus" :cool: on stills--close-ups of people and products, indoors, in studio light, yes?)

    I think your remarks about light and shadow deserve more weight than most of the unsubstantiated,
    "That just don't look right!" we've seen...and yet--as one who has routinely seen profuse amounts of
    diffused light from desert sand light up places that normally wouldn't be,
    there's nothing about this that screams "obvious fake" to me.
    Of course, when you said "not entirely real" that could of course mean that it's 99.9% real with the
    most trivial of exceptions...including, one supposes, minor post-production work on accurate footage, yes?

    I'm absolutely not invested in this particular thread: I don't think that the character of ISIS is
    really in question or their willingness to do barbaric things...so even if they were--for some mysterious reason--
    doing things in a studio to look like they were done outdoors...I don't think it would mean much...

    But what do you think is the single strongest oddity that establishes this as being shot indoors?

    p.s. The "it defies the laws of physics" comment also seemed strong to me, since I've often noted that actual
    shadows didn't fall exactly where "common sense" told me to expect them...but we'll save that for another day... :)
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2015
  10. Deacon Tyler

    Deacon Tyler New Member

    THANK YOU! I had unfollowed the thread to avoid getting into a heated debate (which is of course one of the reasons I was hesitant to post in the first place), but am very glad I decided to pop in for one more peek. Your reply is incredibly thoughtful and balanced and I appreciate that.

    These days I mostly shoot indoors (I'm assuming you probably saw http://deacontyler.com), but on the fashion page, it's a 60/40 split between indoor and outdoor shots. However one of my other sites is http://weddings.deacontyler.com, which is around 70% outdoors (I've since retired from wedding photography, as advertising is more profitable) and my old portrait webpage was around 95% outdoors.

    That's the strangest part to me - I can't figure out WHY the video would be faked, doctored or soundstaged and didn't even realize that there was a debate on the matter until I watched a couple of videos for the first time today. So it wasn't the debate that made me question, it was viewing the videos with virgin eyes and extensive lighting experience that led me to the debate.

    Then I spent some time trying to decide if they added in a bunch of post, additional lighting (and the battery power it would take to fill in or overpower the sun would be incredible) and it left me with even more questions, as why would production value need to be so high?

    I reckon I could speculate and not come up with a satisfying answer.

    As for the last question - The largest oddity is how the faces are lit. Lighting is never a mystery once you understand how it works. I used to teach lighting workshops to other photographers and I would always say "follow the shadows". What's odd about the lighting in the video that makes me wonder (keep in mind that nothing is conclusive) is how well the faces are lit without that much discomfort to the subjects - that alone makes it appear that the lighting, while bright, is not nearly as intense as the sun.

    Were the sun directly overhead, their eyes would be in shadow - were the sun low in the sky and hitting their faces directly, they would have to squint terribly and the shadows would be flattened out. So I considered a large fill light behind the camera to brighten up the shadows on the faces from above and camera left and had to dismiss it. The sun wouldn't be hitting the fill light directly and there wouldn't be enough light to bring their faces up to ambient levels (reflected light always has diminishing returns!) There would however be enough light to make a huge shadow from the camera and tripod.

    The very first video I watched was actually the Jordanian pilot - here's a frame from that video:


    There is no mistaking that there are two light sources. The sun is behind the subjects and camera right and that's the brightest light in the scene, but if you look at the wrinkle above the man's right pectoral, there is a second light source lighting up that fold and subsequently, everyone's faces.

    With the sun as the sole light source BEHIND the subjects, three things would happen: The first is that their faces would be in shadow and the second is a shift in color temperature (blue shadows).

    So let's say they exposed for the shadows on the man's faces - what would happen is that the faces would be properly exposed, but then the background would be VERY overexposed and the colors would not look at 'rich' as they do. They would also have to manually set their cameras for around 8000K to compensate for the blue shadows, which would make that overexposed background look extremely orange, rather than the more neutral color it is (and yes, it's still orange, but it would look much nastier).

    The third thing that would happen if there was a single source of light behind the prisoner and the men (even imagining that they fixed all of the color temperature disparages and exposure problems) would be that their clothing would look flat and featureless. The shadows on his pants would flatten out as well.

    There were quite a few other 'oddities' I noticed in the burning video that I won't go into for the sake of getting back to work and not opening a new debate (although I will link this website, which explains that the fire is clearly fake: http://www.thomaswictor.com/the-jordanian-pilot-was-not-burned-alive/). I'll skip my own commentary about exposing for fire (which is EXTREMELY bright) without leaving the background underexposed by four stops and how shooting through flames will create heat shimmers and let the reader decide for his or her ownself.

    Once more, I'm not saying that the victims are actors - that is not quantified and it's disrespectful to their families, but it's curious that they're lighting and editing the scenes like a movie!
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2015
  11. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    I suggested you confused the sun with studio lights. Specifically with the fact that the suns rays are parallel, but studio lights rays are not parallel. I still think this is the case.

    Look at this again, it's a top down parallel perspective of the setup as seen in the video, with the same shadows.

    Notice the shadows are parallel. This is an effect that you can really ONLY get with the sun. Sharp edged dark single shadows on a shared background. If you use studio lights, you are either going to get shadows that diverge, or multiple shadows, or (like in Infowars' attempt) soft shadows with fill light.

    You said: "never had shadows moving in opposite directions - it defies the laws of physics."

    So please back that up with something other than personal incredulity. I believe I've show quite clearly in the first post that the exact same effect can be duplicated very easily.
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  12. NoParty

    NoParty Senior Member

    Well, you just officially exceeded my pay grade!

    I have ~74,000 (mostly very flawed) pics in iPhoto that testify that I definitely won't be teaching any lighting workshops anytime soon.

    I appreciate your detailed response...I'm on my way out for Saturday night, but I'll definitely paw through it
    more thoroughly as soon as I can. Informed perspective is always welcome. Mick runs an amazing site here...
    I really appreciated him taking the time to do his reenactment (and follow-up graphics)...and now your comments get me thinking
    about the shadow issue even more (though, again, I'm not going to obsess on it...as "where" is still about a rather minor point).
  13. Pete Tar

    Pete Tar Moderator Staff Member

    But you are saying the Jordanian pilot's execution wasn't real, and you don't find that disrespectful to his suffering or his relatives?
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  14. Whitebeard

    Whitebeard Senior Member

    I forced myself to watch the Jordanian pilot video after I got the normal 'its all a CIA hoax' stuff come up on facebook.

    Yes it is a slick production, definitely a multi camera shoot and certainly edited and given a certain amount of post production. (although some of the editing, especially in the ranty bit at the start is a bit sloppy to say the least). However this is in no way proof that it is fake.

    The equipment to make such a video for real is not hard to get hold of, even in the deserts of Iraq. Remember Syria is a war zone, several TV stations have been looted and / or destroyed in recent years, its not beyond reason to say that some of this equipment is now in ISIS hands. Also remember that a lot of the ISIS hostages are broadcast news crews and reporters, and its safe to surmise that if ISIS have the reporters they have their gear as well, pro-quality gear.

    So given that ISIS have in all likelihood got broadcast quality cameras, (maybe lighting as well), and maybe a mac-book with Final Cut Pro or the like on it, all they need to make the video is a couple of radicalized media students and voila... slick video.

    As to WHY ISIS feel the need to shoot the poor guys death like a twisted war movie is anyones guess. But personally I wonder if it isn't a sick response to all the cries of 'fake', and 'CIA Hollywood production'.
  15. thekeyofknowledge

    thekeyofknowledge New Member

    I do not see how this debunks the stated claim that the video is false. The basis of any true experiment would be to exactly duplicate the conditions. Claiming that you did not have spare people needed to duplicate the experiment is rather odd. Anything can be done with video editing. Why don't you debunk the claim by putting two people spaced ~3 feet apart (angled any way you would like) and see if you can duplicate the effect of the shadows on the men's faces? In other words, EXACTLY duplicate the shot.
  16. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    It debunks the claim that the shadows are wrong.

    You can't prove any video is not fake, as there's always the possibility it's a super-sophisticated fake made to look 100% real.

    The point here is that the shadows are not evidence of a fake. And this was the main claim of people saying the video was fake.
  17. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    This effectively does that.
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  18. Hi Mick. This is my first post and hence will be the only time I will go off topic, very briefly, to say thank you and your staff for providing a forum that encourages critical analysis and thinking on controversial subject matter.

    Okie dokie, let's get started then!

    Mick, I have scanned through the comment string looking for any mention of evidence of blood present at the scene and nothing insofar as I can tell has confirmed that an execution has even occurred in the video. I could not find any mention of this issue. However, I believe it is important that we highlight this component of the video as it does not appear anywhere at the end of the video. This is a critical piece of evidence that, in my opinion that has been overlooked. As such making any claim confirming or refuting the authenticity of this video is impossible at best without confirming that a violent crime has even occurred at all in this incident. Do we have any videos that actually show the scene after the presumed beheading that has occurred?

    However, if we focused on the optical characterizations of this video that has been heavily debated here, it stands to reason that this video is in fact authentic. However, given that a claim has been made by the perp that the lives of these two gentlemen would be sacrificed, then it also stands to reason that without tangible evidence demonstrating that any execution has actually occurred, makes debunking or the authenticity or confirming it, impossible at best. Thoughts?
  19. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Because that's not the issue. The issue here is the claim that the shadows were wrong in the video with the two hostages. It was not a video of an execution.

    We try to focus on a single claim of evidence per thread here. Please see:
  20. My apologies. That was a gaf
    My sincerest apologies. That was a gaffe on my part for not paying attention to the subject header and using poor judgement. Not the best first impression I understand. Yikes! But in all honesty, I apologize for that erroneous error.
  21. Pete Tar

    Pete Tar Moderator Staff Member

    Don't worry about it.
    You can start a thread on the topic if you really want, but I would suggest having a bit more material than just that and doing a bit of research first, as just a question isn't really a good basis for a thread here.
    Also keep in mind, we are dealing here with the violent deaths and repugnant murders of two men for political purposes (or at least the potential of that if you really doubt the reality of the act), so try to be respectful of that possibility at least.
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  22. Whitebeard

    Whitebeard Senior Member

    I made the similar error on my first couple of posting attempts, but once you get into the site mindset, one claim per topic and the the like it soon becomes easy.
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  23. Tina

    Tina New Member

    This is one video that I wish were fake.
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  24. Svartbjørn

    Svartbjørn Senior Member

    We all do.
  25. derrick06

    derrick06 Active Member

    That was an interesting read.
  26. HardRockShell

    HardRockShell New Member


    I read all the talking, and I agree with Tyler, for some points.

    Work in the field of brand awareness, and I shot a lot of commercials in various studios. I deal with post-production in particular, and many times I had to make keylights process.

    I do not know if this video is a fake from dumb people, or is by Isis, but for real this video was shooted in studio.

    The main factors are:

    The sunlight comes from the sun. The sun is calculated as a infinite point of light, then the shadows should be parallel. But them converged in one point. it's a spotlight.

    On a cloudy day as seen in the background, even at noon, the sunlight is diffused by the clouds. They works like a diffuser for sun light. but look at the shadows, are perfectly defined, even the outline of a knife at about a meter away. [​IMG]
    Try yourself, on a cloudy day out with a pencil, and try to project the shadow on the ground. You will not see much than a blurred shadow.

    The wind. Looks like there is a lot of wind, but the brush on the right is fixed for all time.
  27. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    They don't converge, they are parallel. See the first post.

    They are not in cloud, they are under direct sunlight.
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  28. Hevach

    Hevach Senior Member

    Shadows cast by a point source not at effectively infinite distance will diverge, not converge.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  29. Pigeonkak

    Pigeonkak Member

    And any convergence, correct me if I'm wrong, is merely the visual effect of foreshortening. No?
  30. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Just general perspective. The shadows converge like railway tracks "converge". They are parallel though.

    It would be pretty hard to make shadows actually converge. You'd end up with multiple shadows.